Today in History: NZ Artillery Opens Fire in Vietnam

Today in History – 16 July 1965: Gunners of 161 Field Battery fire New Zealand’s first artillery shots of the Vietnam War from their base in Bien Hoa, near Saigon.

The last war (undeclared) that New Zealand sent combat troops to fight in was Vietnam, from 1963-1975. New Zealand’s contribution was initially medics and engineers, followed by an artillery battery, two companies of infantry at Nui Dat, and the NZSAS from 1968. Men rotated through the companies (Victor and Whiskey) for operational tours involving difficult patrol and clearance work, often in the face of an unseen enemy. The war was not popular at home and public pressure played a major role in ending New Zealand’s contribution to the war. The cost for New Zealand: 37 men died while on active service, and 187 were wounded.